CONAKRY, January 10, 2019-- Africa is by far the youngest continent in the world with 200 million citizens aged 15 to 24 years. This figure is projected to double by 2045. Such is the case in Guinea, where 70% of the country’s 13 million citizens are under the age of 35. This raises the issue of economic opportunities available to these young people who are entering the job market in increasingly high numbers every year. It is estimated that over 60% of young Guinean graduates are unemployed. This often stems from a mismatch between their skills and employers’ expectations.
Being Innovative and Seizing Opportunities
Some of these young people, like Mariama and Mohamed—both determined and full of innovative ideas—have opted to circumvent these challenges by becoming entrepreneurs in order to create their dream jobs themselves. “I always wanted to be independent and start my own business,” states Mariama who, at the age of 24, would like to create an online platform and mobile application for purchasing and repairing home appliances, putting clients in direct contact with technicians. “I thought about this project because today, in Guinea, no tool exists to connect sellers, technicians, and clients with each other,” she explains. “Recommendations are made by word of mouth and people have to systematically travel around to make the simplest purchase.”
Meanwhile, Mohamed plans to enter the beekeeping business to make honey and other by-products, by installing modern beehives in the Kindia prefecture. “There is enormous potential that is not being tapped at the moment,” affirms this 25-year-old young man. “In 2017, Guinea only officially exported 227 kg of honey. I was inspired by the examples of China, Venezuela, and Mexico, which are major honey-exporting countries.”
Mariama and Mohamed are among 100 winners of the Business Plan Competition (BPC) organized by the Stepping Up Skills Project [Booster les compétences pour l’employabilité des jeunes BoCEJ], implemented by the Ministry of Youth. With $20 million in financing from the World Bank, the project aims to boost the employability and employment outcomes of Guinean youth through programs to build or acquire targeted skills in the most promising sectors such as agriculture, health, and energy.